Lotto is the most common form of gambling in Australia. Every week millions of ordinary people who probably don't think of themselves as gamblers, religiously commit a small (in most cases) percentage of their incomes to the coffers of Lotto companies and the government, in return for a very small chance at instant wealth. In effect these people are paying for the enjoyment of having a dream, which is fine as long they understand that this is what they are doing. Many players of gambling variants like Lotto and Bingo would not see it as gambling, more as paying for some light entertainment, and we have no problem with it in that context.

It must be understood though, that Lotteries are hugely negative sum games, usually returning somewhere below 60% of entry money to the prize pool. This makes Lotto poor value for the smart gambler. Yet Lotto remains the most most popular form of gambling in Australia and many other countries. Lotteries have occasionally been referred to as a 'stupidity tax'!

Despite this, lotteries have become more and more popular around the world, and in doing so they have also become bigger. More players means bigger prizes and thus the self reinforcing cycle continues. Another factor in the growth of lotteries is their international nature, with players anywhere in the world able to participate in the big lotteries via the internet.

Lotteries attract more than their fair share of shysters selling betting systems and numbers to the gullible, of which, unfortunately, there seems to be no shortage. You can read about some of these scams under the 'Nice Try' link.

There are four approaches to lotteries:

  1. Don't play.
    This is recommended by Smartgambler for most people.
  2. Play, but don't spend much and don't take it too seriously. Treat it as a small sum spent on entertainment. We repeat, as an 'investment' your expected return is very poor.
  3. Play seriously, to win.
    As far as we know, only a few mathematicians and professional gamblers like the Stefan Mandel syndicate have been able to actually get an edge at Lotto, and only then by waiting until numerous consecutive jackpots had produced the necessary mathematical conditions to create value. If you go into it scientifically, monitoring the big lotteries around the world for rare opportunities to strike, it is possible to gain an edge. Even this edge is usually only theoretical because of the huge odds against winning, unless you become part of well moneyed syndicate that covers all, or very large chunks of all, the combinations. Even then there is the horrible possibility of a state lottery board reneging on a payout as reputedly happened to the Mandel syndicate, miring them in legal proceedings.
  4. Virtual Lotto.
    You pretend you have entered and hope fervently to win first prize. Your chances (zero) are not dissimilar to everybody else's and you have all the usual fun of hoping to win, but you save the entry fee each time you 'play'.

Smartgambler also has a suggestion for a new, world first, reverse form of Tattslotto, which would be free to enter. Instead of one or two people becoming very happy after each draw and millions of losers being slightly disappointed, how about there being ten or so 'losers' who are stripped of all their money, their assets liquidated after each draw, then divided up amongst all the other players? You would have millions of happy winners of a small amount each week, compared to only a tiny number of (very) upset losers. The losers however, would be consoled with the thought that money isn't everything and could join a non materialistic religious sect, without even having to donate their now non-existent wealth towards the sect leader's affluent lifestyle.

If instead of Lotto, you prefer to take your chances in an online casino, you can find a great comparison site at

There are, of course, ways to increase your return on lottery games, mostly based on choosing less popular combinations so that any hypothetical win will yield greater returns, due to fewer other winners requiring their split. The effect of these measures is hard to quantify and we consider it unlikely that any of them (other than the very professional approach outlined above) actually lead to an advantage for the player. Don't forget, in lottery games you are starting out with a 40% or worse disadvantage.

If you are undaunted by what you have read so far, have a look at the following section for advice on how to minimise the damage.

NEXT ... Playing Tips




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